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Production Contacts/Local Networking

J. Dan

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I was looking over the links posted by Coach in his "Full Time Musician" thread, and got me thinking.


Over the last 3-1/2 years that I've been the BL (out of 6 yrs since the band formed), at times it's been a challenge to line out good production. I was fortunate when I took things over that we already had a strong relationship with a sound company with great sound guys who gives us preferential treatment in a lot of cases because we use them a lot.


But times that I had to stray beyond their capabilities or outside the area, I've realized how challenging it is to find folks in this size range. Example: About 1-1/2 yr ago we had a gig in KC. Too far to bring St. Louis production due to the cost of hauling a trailer across the State, but I didn't know anyone in KC. I got a few references, sent emails to some bands I found online, made a lot of phone calls. Most of them turned up nothing. There were a lot that were inadequate (bands with PA that run it when they don't have gigs - mostly speakers on sticks with a couple subs), or the Large sound companies that are really expensive because they specialize in 5000+ seat venues, etc. I finally came across somebody I didn't know from Adam, and nobody I talked to knew him, but he had the gear I wanted and his price was comparable to what I was accustomed. I had to go through a lot more with the contract, deposit, etc., which is to be expected since he didn't know me either, but in the end it was fine. But the whole process took an aweful lot of digging and correspondance just for one show.


Even around here - as I've been trying to expand our production, these guys just aren't in the search engines or listed in the phone book. I've had to talk around to other bands, booking agents, etc. Referrals from one sound guy to another, etc, just to even expand our light show appropriately.


And I'm adding video. I know ONE guy who does video (basically a VJ), but he's pretty well tied up with another band in town. So I'm doing it myself, triggered via MIDI from my keyboard, and tieing into house video screens. But there are shows where I would like to have a couple projectors and maybe somebody with a video mixer and camera. Can't find anybody except the really big expensive production companies to do this.


It seems like these guys are out there but the only way to find them is word of mouth (other than the big production companies). Do you guys run into the same thing? How much production are you doing? It seems like there is kind of a vacuum between the low-tier, somewhat crappy sound guy with basic lights set to chase with the music, and Full-On huge production. We've found decent sound guys with good systems, and finally (as of a couple weeks ago), a light guy who can bring out several movers, a hazer, and run the stage lights for a reasonable price, but it's been a journey.


Just to quantify, usually sound is $500 for most indoor shows, up to $1000 for festival sized outdoor. Lighting is $150 for 4 movers, a hazer and running house lights, around $350 for a full-on show with trusses, 16 cans, 4 movers, power distro, etc. By comparison, some of the "Big" companies want $1500 min just to run what I'm getting for $500 from my sound guy. Likewise, there are LOTS of guys who will run for $300, but they pretty much don't give a crap and will always bring out minimal equipment and pick their nose most the night.


I guess my biggest question is around networking and how you guys find these folks. Are they as hard to find where you live as they are here?



Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I have had to do full production in other states and I do festivals as well as ballrooms in the Northern California area.


I still lead a band, and I have had to do production for other people at trade shows. Although I network with many musicians as well as production companies, the most productive resources are the people in the hospitality and tourism business.


I usually call a major hotel or convention center and ask to speak with someone in sales or catering. I tell them that I am preparing for an event in their area and ask who they recommend for their sound and light production needs. They have events in their facility every week. They know the local reliable people. Sound and light companies try to network with the hotel and meeting planner personnel.


Hope this helps..

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